Sunday, April 28, 2024

Orleans’ First Big Hit and How It’s Connected to “Dancing in the Moonlight”


The name “Orleans” might not sound familiar but their first big hit surely does.

From 1975, “Dance With Me” — again from the Midnight Special.

Orleans was formed in 1972 by John Hall, Larry Hoppen, and Wells Kelly in Woodstock, New York. Larry’s brother Lance joined a short time later.

The video above shows the three original members sharing vocals — Hall on guitar, Larry Hoppen on keys and lead vocal, Kelly on drums, and Lance Hoppen on bass.

Larry Hoppen and Wells Kelly, as it turns out, were members of King Harvest whose big hit “Dancing in the Moonlight” was written by Kelly’s brother Sherman (also a member of King Harvest for a short time).


Orleans used a lot of unusual instruments in their songs, and on this track, Larry Hoppen played a melodica in the break. Also called a "hooter," the instrument looks like a small keyboard with a mouthpiece attached. It is played by blowing through the reed and controlling the notes with the keyboard.

“Dance With Me” became a big hit which proved once again that record label suits are often clueless:

Orleans recorded this song for their second album, Orleans II, which was given limited international release in 1974 but withheld in the US by their label, ABC, which didn't hear a hit single on the album. The group left the label and joined Elektra-Asylum. Their first release on that label was Let There Be Music in 1975, which included a re-recorded "Dance With Me."

The ABC suits wouldn't even release the album in the U.S. because they didn’t hear a hit single on it!